View Full Version : Modernism and The Great Gatsby

01-29-2008, 09:51 AM
I have studied the Great Gatsby extenzively while in college but now im in uni im looking at it from a Modernism perspective does anybody have any hints tip or specific sections i should look at i was finking about the valley of ashes linking with ts eliots waste land and the billboard with the eyes refering to religion

02-13-2008, 01:15 AM
It is my opinion that Fitzgerald intended the novel to be read from a modernist perspective. The narration in Ch. 9, (particularly the final paragraphs,) supports this. Your examples, (the valley of ashes, the billboard, etc.) are all excellent images for a modernism perspective.
Fitzgerald was quoted, saying that the book itself was a depiction of the "unfulfilled potentialities of the new world".
I hope that I was of some help to you:)

01-30-2010, 12:25 PM
I'd say structurally as well.

01-30-2010, 03:46 PM
The limited point of view, the semi-reliable narrator, the impressionistic prose style, the Gatsby character as morally ambiguous.

05-04-2010, 10:19 AM
I am not sure Modernism gets sole claim to moral ambiguity--but to me the novel is closer to gonzo journalism than Joyce/Proust Modernist tropes. The story fragments along very sharp angles, although it does not quite fit post modern norms either, not quite so self-conscious, although it could be argued that expectations are frustrated, to some degree--I think Fitz anticipates Thompson.

Nick isn't a journalist, but behaves like one who breaks the rules as it suits him to do so; he resists the story arc even while inextricably fabricated within it, to me that is part of the fascination of Fitzgerald's approach in the use of first person.

05-04-2010, 11:07 PM
I once asked an instructor of mine how he would define Modernism, and he responded that it is a movement characterized by being self-conscious about the limitations of literary form.

F. Scott had, in his correspondence, expressed enthusiasm about inventing a new literary form. I forget when this letter was dated, or to whom it was addressed - perhaps the letter was written after Gatsby, but it shows that matters of form were something that occupied his mind.

I think there is definitely something innovative in the form of The Great Gatsby. It sharply contrasts with F. Scott's first two novels - This Side of Paradise and The Beautiful and Damned. For one thing, it is distinguished by its brevity; the concision of the novel is just as revolutionary as Joyce's use of language, as Hemingway's prose style, or Virginia Woolf's choice of subject matter (e.g. Mrs. Dalloway). It also takes the figurative to a whole new level; it is not just a tool used here and there, but something architectural.

I'd say that the novel's brevity and its use of the figurative are two formal innovations that place it as a Modernist text - a novel self-conscious of its form.

05-05-2010, 07:09 AM
I am not an expert on defining Modernism ktm, and I know, like post-modernism, that the two are closely related, but The Great Gatsby doesn't fit easily into the high Modernist European authors with whom I have more than a passing familiarity: Proust, Musil, Lampedusa, Woolf, Joyce to a lesser extent.

I do not exclude the possibility for radicalized elements, but I think, if one wants to say American Modernists exist, that they are different from their European counterparts.

I am not fully fleshed out on Fitzgerald, and I am resisting the impulse to immediately go and download Tender Is The Night and reread it again too for points of comparison.